Seducing Large Fish with Barr’s Meat Whistle

The Largemouth pictured above was caught on Monday of this week by Erik Staub in a lake adjacent to Greeley, CO
John Barr’s Meat Whistle by Umpqua is a popular fly pattern for Bass and Trout.   John originally developed the fly for bass fishing in Colorado to replicate the pig n’ jig used by conventional tackle anglers.  However, it is equally effective for trout and other species.  While it is designed to imitate a crayfish it can be tied in a variety of colors and sizes to imitate small baitfish.  The materials used produce a considerable amount of motion and the conehead cuts quickly through the water to get the fly down fast.

The key to using this fly is to fish it slow; bumping it along the bottom.


Hook: Gamakatsu 90 degree jig hook #1/0
Cone: Large Tungsten Copper Cone
Thread: UTC 140 denier, rusty brown
Ribbing: Brassie sized UTC Ultra Wire, Copper Brown
Body: Copper Sparkle Braid
Wing: Rusty Brown rabbit strip
Legs: Pumpkin Barred Sili Legs
Flash: Copper Flashabou
Collar: Brown Marabou

Note:  There are a lot of variations to the above listing but the basic construction and profile remains the same

In 2011 John Barr posted some comments about fishing the Meat Whistle  on the RIO Products web site

“I cast the fly and allow it to sink. While it is sinking I am watching the line tip or the line closest to me that I can see for any little twitches or movement that can occur when a fish takes the fly. If there is movement in the line I strip set hard. If the fly sinks to the bottom without a take, I let it sit and start my retrieve. The retrieve can be a series of hand twists slow strips or a combination of the two, with many pauses. While retrieving I don’t pinch the line against the grip. I drape the line over the middle finger of my rod hand. Takes are detected by feeling anything different in the finger that the line is draped over. The line can impart a subtle tick, feels like something pecking your finger, or just feel tighter on the finger. If the line feels different I strip set hard. If I don’t hook a fish during the retrieve at the end I sweep the rod which can trigger a grab from a fish following, and pick up and cast again. The long leader allows the fly and leader to sink while the floating line stays on or near the surface. The floating line lifts the fly off the bottom when stripped and allows it to fall during the pause, and line movement can be detected when a fish takes.
When warm water fishing for bass, incidental catches of other species on the Meat Whistle are fairly common. Many of my largest perch, brim, carp and catfish have been caught while fishing a 3/0 Meat Whistle for bass.

I still love ripping a big black and blue Whistle in the late evening and feeling that jolt when a fish savagely attacks, and I still swing and strip, but the Passive technique has produced so many trout and bass, especially large fish, that I employ it regularly.”